News Room

Statement by John Bailey, Chief Scientist, The Personal Care Products Council, Response to Study on Phthalate Exposure in Baby Care Products

February 4, 2008

Contact:  Kathleen Dezio, 202/454-0302 or Lisa Powers, 202/466-0489

 A study published this month in the journal, Pediatrics, suggests that the use of baby lotion, powder, and shampoo is linked to the presence of phthalates in babies.  Phthalates are a large family of compounds used in a wide variety of everyday products.  They are used primarily as plasticizers, giving flexibility to rubber, plastic, or resin and can also be used to stabilize and make fragrances work properly.  The study’s researchers analyzed urine concentrations of nine different phthalate metabolites in 163 infants and concluded that the use of these baby products resulted in higher levels of phthalates in the infants.


“The results of this study suggesting a link between the use of baby lotion, shampoo, and powder and the presence of phthalates in infants do not make sense because only one of the seven phthalate compounds reported is even used in baby care products.  This suggests that most of the phthalates found in the urine samples came from another route of exposure, and we welcome additional study to determine the source.

The one phthalate that is sometimes found in baby care products is diethyl phthalate (DEP).  DEP, which is a component of some fragrance preparations, may be present at very low levels in baby care products.  No other phthalates are used in fragrance preparations or baby products.    Both the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, an independent, nonprofit panel of scientists and physicians who assess the safety of personal care product ingredients in the U.S., and the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP), the body that advises the European Union Commission on safety matters related to cosmetics, determined DEP to be safe.  DEP has been extensively researched and has not been linked to reproductive toxicity or endocrine disruption.

Unfortunately, the researchers of this study did not test baby care products for the presence of phthalates or control for other possible routes of exposure. A 2006 study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that with the exception of DEP, no other phthalates were present in the baby product tested.  For this reason, we question the validity of the alleged link between the use of baby personal care products and the presence of phthalates in infants.”